Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review : H1-Keep on the Shadowfell

I recently purchased this adventure and although it is 2 years old I thought I would give you a mini review.I have had a love hate relationship with off the shelf adventures and have rarely included them in my campaigns. I have used them for those nights where I manage to get a group other than my regular group together. I have a large collection of them because I have been known to borrow things from then, especially new creatures, traps and cool NPCs.

Before I dig into the contents of the adventure, I wanted you to know that this adventure and the Quick Start Rules are available for free from the wizards site. Here is the link:Even after having this adventure for quite a while, I decided to purchase it for three reasons. First, the story of the adventure just happened to be the perfect beginning to my campaign arc and it will provide a solid foundation to build the rest of my story on. Second, there will be a couple of players who have never played the game before and this 16 page booklet is far less intimidating than either the Players Handbook or the Essentials players books. Third, the provided battle mats are, as usual, an excellent way to make the game come alive.I really liked the wide variety of encounters in the adventure. For the new player, it gives them an overview of many of the creatures they will be battling for years to come. For the veteran player, they will be challenged by the variety of the creatures. This adventure does not include any new creatures however it does introduce an NPC that you can use for your campaign, provided you let him escape rather than have the players kill him.Fourth edition saw the introduction of the folder format for adventures, usually consisting of two books and the maps all neatly organized in the pockets of the folder. When I first purchased an adventure with this format, I was a little skeptical. The folder was bigger than the rest of my stuff and I was concerned the folder would become bent and damaged. After the first time using this new format, I found that i could keep all my adventure notes in one of the folders. This is especially good for keeping notes on how you modified the adventure incase you will be running it in the future. As for the potential damage, I will just have to be careful to avoid it.The biggest thing I would have changed was to remove the introduction to running the game for the DM and put it into its own book like that of the Quick Start rules. I think it will reduce the number of times a new DM will have to flip between pages. This in turn will prevent confusion on the DMs part. Also, by doing this the size of the adventure will be more accurately reflected. On the back of the adventure the contence are listed as "Inside this folder are an 80-page Adventure Book, a 16-page 4th Quick-Start Rulebook, five ready-to-play 1st-level characters, and three double-sided battle maps...". Since the DM rules take up the first 15 pages of the ad entire book, the adventure is really only 65 pages. When comparing the size of this adventure with the second one in the series you find that the total number of pages dedicated to the adventure are 96. Its nit picking I know but I would have liked it to have been more clear to begin with.It is well worth your hard earned money, even if you have no intention in running the adventure. The Quick Start Rules and battle mats can be used for many years to come.Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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